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In France, a Defeat for Free Speech and the Right to Life


The Parliament has voted to criminalize pro-life advocacy on the Internet.

The French Parliament this week approved an abominable measure criminalizing pro-life speech on the Internet, in the name of women’s freedom to choose abortion without remorse. If the measure is formally enacted, which seems likely, the punishment for anyone who violates its proscriptions will be over $30,000 in fines and up to two years of jail time.

Supporters of the law have attempted to fend off well-deserved criticism by noting that the measure punishes only “misinformation” about abortion, supposedly in order to protect women from false and pernicious anti-choice rhetoric. But the bill’s language undeniably criminalizes nearly all pro-life speech — or, at the very least, allows most types of anti-abortion speech to be judicially interpreted as “misinformation” when viewed from a progressive perspective. One clause in particular justifies free-speech concerns about this bill, as it deems criminal the wielding of “moral and psychological pressure, threats or intimidation against medical and non-medical [personnel] working in these institutions, [or against] women who undergo or seek information about a voluntary termination of pregnancy, or any acquaintance of the latter.” This language illustrates the insidious nature of the bill, in which fair pro-life arguments (which presumably would fall under the category of “moral pressure” are associated with “threats or intimidation.”

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